Otaku USA Magazine
We Recommend a Mecha Anime for You Based on Your Vibe

New to mecha anime? Let's get you started!

Whether it’s new titles hitting streaming, classic titles hitting Discotek, or a certain sequel smashing its crowdfunding goal, mecha anime is here to stay. But if you’re new to the world of giant robots, it can be a bit daunting. Especially if, say, a friend showed you End of Evangelion with no warning. Like any anime, the best approach is to start with something you already like, and just add robots. And we’re here to help with that.

Instead of trying to start you with the “best” giant robot anime or isolate the “most beginner-friendly” series, we’re basing it all on vibes. What are you already into? We guarantee there’s a robot for that!


Fantasy and Romance: The Vision of EscaFlowne

The Vision of EscaFlowne

If you think mecha anime might not be for you because you prefer fantasy to sci-fi, think again. There are plenty of fantasy-forward giant robot series, with The Vision of EscaFlowne being one of the top titles. It follows Hitomi, a Japanese schoolgirl with a knack for reading tarot cards, on her journey to the magical world of Gaea. There, she finds herself in the midst of an ongoing war fought with robots called Guymelefs — one of which is the eponymous EscaFlowne.

Love, deception, intrigue, and magic are all on the table. And this series has a heck of a pedigree, too — created by Shoji Kawamori (the Macross franchise) and with a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. It’s currently available to stream on the Funimation website; just be sure you get it subtitled, as the dub is just a wee bit re-cut. For more fantasy mecha, try Aura Battler Dunbine, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Knight’s & Magic.


Sci-Fi: Gunbuster


Like science fiction that’s heavy on the science? While many mecha anime eschew logic for cutting planets in half, a few take science into consideration. (And still sometimes cut planets in half.) The Gainax masterpiece Gunbuster is one such series — it even rewrites the history of science to account for its lightspeed travel and big outer space explosions. At six episodes long, it’s also a low-commitment series. Though we’re pretty sure you’ll be crying by the end even so.

While Gunbuster corners the market on hard(-ish) sci-fi thanks to its science lessons, series like Round Vernian Vifam and Votoms can also bring that vibe.


Human Stories: Mobile Suit Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam

Shy of mecha anime because you prefer more grounded, human stories? There was an entire sea change in the genre about that very sentiment! Mobile Suit Gundam was made in response to the surge of hot-blooded robot pilots who ruled the 1970s. Instead of a hero ready to lead the charge against alien monsters, we meet the more reticent Amuro Ray. His story — about being thrown into a battle he didn’t want to fight — paved the way for an entire franchise that’s still going to this day.

If this appeals to you, you might prefer the “real robot” subgenre to super robots. Dig in to shows like Martian Successor Nadesico, the Macross franchise, and (of course) more Gundam titles. (Your mileage may vary on the over-the-top G Gundam.)

Speaking of isekai like EscaFlowne, get ready for next month’s new anime!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.